The board cutting through crystal-clear waters. The breeze lifting the kite, pulling the board faster and faster through the surf. White sand beaches becoming a blur. These are perhaps some of the sensations that prompted Michael Percy to sell his windsurfing gear in 1999, and throw himself into kiteboarding as the founder of Houston Kiteboarding . Today, he and his experienced staff lead hands-on lessons and product demonstrations in kiteboarding, kitesurfing, stand-up paddleboarding, and landboarding in the Gulf of Mexico.
As they introduce safety and basic on-water skills, instructors ride side-by-side with students?assisting them when they step onto the board, feel the breeze lift their trainer kites, and give a seagull family the right of way for the first time. Instructors take more experienced riders tanker surfing in Galveston Bay, and on stand-up paddleboard tours through the calm waters and bird sanctuaries of Dollar Bay and Texas City's Levee area. For those who want to strike out on their own, staff also rent and sell stand-up paddleboards and kiteboards by makers such as Cabrinha, Litewave, and Shinn. To accompany these, they provide wares ranging from GoPro HD digital cameras to riding accessories to kites.
TryKickboxingNow.com's self-defense classes are more than just kickboxing sessions. Their courses blend traditional kickboxing, muay thai, boxing, karate, and interval training to burn fat and build muscle. In order to make it easy for exercisers to learn the kicks and punches of the sport, sessions take place at affiliate gyms across the country.
Feet patter across three information-packed floors stacked inside the Ocean Star, a former drilling rig that spends its retirement as a museum and education center on Galveston's Pier 19. After two decades drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, the rig has since been revamped and outfitted with interactive models and displays that illustrate the story of offshore oil, gas, and the energies that lurk beneath the world's oceans. Visitors can tap into videos for explanations of drilling, geology, and seismic topics, or stand next to scale models of production platforms. In addition to its lineup of eye-popping sites, Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig Museum and Education Center harbors ongoing exhibits showcasing the industry's careers, history, and safety measures. Self-guided tours seven days a week enable guests to explore the rig's nooks at their own pace, while an onboard staff stands by to answer questions and courteously laugh at all petroleum-related knock-knock jokes.
The ghastly guides of Ghost Tours Texas lead groups of foolhardy interlopers on story-filled journeys past the spectrally inhabited landmarks of Galveston and Houston Heights. On the Galveston tour, a knowledgeable leader takes parties through the Silk Stocking District to visit the 1858 Ashton Villa mansion, whose second floor is occupied by the phantom “Miss Betty” Brown, and whose basement is occupied by a man who years ago forgot how to work a doorknob. The guide also divulges tales told from eyewitness accounts.
The Houston Heights tour winds through the area's historical and opulent homes, exploring such mysteries as the story of the Dean Correl murders and the children who are said to still haunt the alleyways of Houston Heights. Guides weave tales of ghostly possessions and evil voodoo dolls peppered with real-life testimonies from local residents.
Runners embarking on the Honky Tonk Marathon, Half Marathon, and 5K won't need headphones to hear twangy country tunes. That’s because the hilly Wisconsin Dells course features live bands and DJs along the route to keep participants energized as they race toward the finish line. The party-like atmosphere doesn’t end with the race, as a full-blown celebration complete with food, beer, and line dancing awaits runners and their family and friends. Aside from age-group awards for the top three males and females in each race, finish-line gifts include a Honky Tonk cowboy hat and goodie bag for all participants, a finisher-medal buckle for marathoners and half marathoners, and an ice bath for those who decided to pogo stick the entire 26.2 miles. The Honky Tonk marathon and half-marathon course is USA Track & Field certified and is also a Boston Marathon qualifier.
Though the native Texan and native Australian who founded Southern Spears Surf grew up oceans apart, their love of surfing the very waters that once separated them now unites them. Both have traveled the world, from Costa Rica and Fiji to Indonesia, in pursuit of the perfect wave.
At Southern Spears Surf—“spear” is Australian slang for surfboard—they cater to fellow surfing devotees with a generous selection of short and long boards. To kit-out surfers, they sell surf-inspired clothing for guys and girls, as well as gear like wetsuits and wax to keep boards slip-free while eliminating the body hair that naturally grows from them.